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    5 of the Toughest Races in the World

    5 of the Toughest Races in the World

    Extreme racing has become some what of a trend over the past few years and with the emergence of new events including obstacle course racing, triathlon, multi terrain running and other challenges, there is no short supply of fantastic options.

    For those looking for a serious challenge however, and looking to conquer what most out there won't even touch; from extreme winter races, to races with a 43% 'Did Not Finish' rate. Here are a few of the most epic, and arduous, races in the world.

    6633 Arctic Ultra - Canada 20th January 
     Fancy racing 380 miles nonstop across an icy and snowy landscape whilst pulling a sled full of supplies behind you? Well if the answer is yes, this one could be for you. Now entering its ninth year, this arctic endeavour pits winter daredevils against one another, beginning in the Canadian village of Inuvik along the Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk and finishing across the line of the Arctic circle. With extreme conditions and temperatures falling below -20 degrees it is the elements combined with the 380 miles that make this one of the toughest races out there. 

     

    Norseman Xtreme - Norway - 3rd August

    The Norseman is a race so tough you’ll need a support crew throughout. And with a 15:35hr median finish time, the stats don’t lie. With the waters of Eidfjord getting as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit and the athletes having to take a 4m jump off the ferry to begin the swim. The bike course is tough with a number of rolling hills before entering the run course. The final 15km of the run (before the 1500m slog up the mountain rocks and scree) has a gradient of 10% and is known as Zombie Hill, so you can imagine what that one is like. The race ends at the top of Gaustatoppen and is rightly named one of the most difficult races in the world.  

    Iditarod Trail Invitational - Alaska - 1st March

    This race follows the route of the Iditarod Trail—and is one not for the faint of heart. The race accepts 75 entrants each year and this ultra marathon combines foot racing, fat biking, and skiing across 350 miles in one of the world’s fiercest climates. If you’re tough enough to survive the frozen tundra once, you’ll qualify for the 1000 mile race which begins in Knik, Alaska and crosses over the Alaska Range into McGrath. Some challenging terrain combined with running, skiing and biking this one is a true test of endurance and mental will power. 

    The Brutal, Snowdonia, Wales - 12th September

     This race was first launched in 2012 by ultra athlete Clair Smith and is known for its low key and friendly atmosphere. There is however nothing friendly about the race course. Beginning the 3.8km swim in the rather cold Lake Padarn before being subjected to over 3,000m of climbing on the 180km Snowdonian bike leg. Then there is the 1,349m of climbing along the run to finish off. You will be looking at 13+ hours of non stop intense pain on this one across some of the most challenging conditions in Wales.

    OCR Dirty Double, UK - 9th May 

    This is one of the worlds largest assault course which requires competitors to complete over 400 obstacles across 64km of terrain. Set amid the backdrop of Burghley house in Peterborough, challenges range form crawling through cars to a 30ft tower jump to the world's longest monkey bars and lake swim. This is probably not as intense as some of the other races but still requires a lot of grit to carry you through the 64km of challenging obstacles. 

     

    Looking for the right kit for your next race then check out some of our kit here; 

     

    3 Exercises That Will Improve Your Flexibility

    3 Exercises That Will Improve Your Flexibility

    With the modern person spending up to 10 hours a day sat down and finding little time to partake in yoga or stretching exercises, our bodies are becoming more stiff and less flexible. Here are 3 exercises that can help your body regain that flexibility you once had. 

    Dead Hang 

    Use this exercise to release the tension in your shoulders. Hold on to a bar and hang from it with an overhand grip. Relax your shoulders and back keeping your core engaged and your legs together. Hold this position for 30 seconds before jumping down and taking a 15 second rest. Repeat 5 times.

    Image result for dead hang

     

    Deep Goblet Squat 

    This is a great exercise to loosen up your hips, knees and ankles and gettin your body prepared to go deeper in the squat. Stand tall and hold a dumbbell to your chest, then drop down into a deep squat position, maintaining a neutral spine with your chest up and knees pushed out. Hold this for 15 seconds before coming back to the start position. Repeat 6 times. 

    Image result for goblet squat

    Seated Groin Stretch

    This is a great exercise to stretch out the inner thighs. Begin seated on the floor, knees bent out to your sides and soles of your feet touching. Pull the feet gently in toward your body until you feel a stretch in your hips and inner thighs. Once your flexibility increases, try leaning forward to deepen the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

     

    These exercises are a good starting point in developing and regaining your flexibility. Give them a go and let us know how you get on. 

    Can lifting weights replace mileage when it comes to marathon training?

    Can lifting weights replace mileage when it comes to marathon training?

    As marathon season fast approaches and more and more people start to pound the pavements we question whether lifting weights can replace mileage when it comes to marathon training?

    People often think that lifting weights gets you big and bulky however with an effective plan and the right workouts it would be an anomaly for you to turn into a body builder. A high intensity running and S&C programme can be one of the most effective ways of ensuring that you remain injury free. With long slow distance running, dysfunction can creep up on you, and it can be difficult to get rid of that ingrained pattern of movement you have become accustomed to. A lot of people are running with a limited range of motion, and then sitting at their desks in a limited range of motion. Therefore, they’re neglecting all these other things that S&C largely deals with. When squatting for example you have to get into the full hip range of motion, then if you are running for an hour it is going to be much easier to recover from the activity.

    The majority of the time when you finish a marathon you are not out of breathe but you are in pain. You are usually in that pain because your body is broken down. A good S&C programme will mean you don’t break down as quickly, and that you recover quicker at the end.

    We would say the minimum times you should be doing a weight lifting session is twice a week. The maximum is probably four times a week. But it depends a lot on the individual, and what their history is. One thing we would say, is that once a week is probably not enough. In every endurance sport, there are people who think doing S&C/yoga/mobility work is something that can happen once a week and that’s like eating healthily once a week.

    If you don’t have access to a gym or weights then there are workouts that you can do at home. Most people when training for a marathon prefer to run multiple times a week and negate any strength training and we are not saying that your running won’t improve from this, however thinking long term about the impact on the body and the benefits in recovery we would certainly recommend adding in a few well structured and relevant strength sessions.

    The Best UK Triathlons

    The Best UK Triathlons

    If you are looking to compete in a triathlon between May and October in the UK, well look no further. We have put together a list of some of the best triathlons in each month from May to October covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

    May

    THE SLATEMAN

    Location: Llanberis, Snowdonia  

    Distance: 1km | 51km | 11km

    A swim surrounded with mountains, a bike course in the hearty of Snowdonia National Park and a run through an awesome slate quarry. As if this one couldn’t get any better…. Well the crowd is one of the most supportive of any races. There are a few race options available here. The sprint, classic, savage and Legend all available. 

    June 

     LLANDUDNO SEA TRIATHLON

    Location: Llandudno, Conwy County

    Distance: 750m | 19km | 5km

    With a thrilling sea swim, a pretty challenging cycle section around the Great Orme with magnificent views of the coastline and a run along the Victorian Promenade to Penrhyn and back this race delivers a truly scenic yet challenging race. One to put in the racing schedule for sure. 

    July

     CASTLE HOWARD TRIATHLON

    Location: Castle Howard, Yorkshire 

    Distance: 1.5km | 40km | 10km

    In its tenth year now, the Castle Howard Triathlon features a whole weekend of racing on the southern border of the North York Moors. A course with something for every level of triathlete, starting with the swim in the Great Lake before transitioning into the technical bike route through the glorious rural idyll of Yorkshire and the Howardian Hills. The run leg passes through the countryside of the estate before a sprint finish right into the front doors of the house. 

    August

     ELY MONSTER MIDDLE 

    Location: Ely, Cambridgeshire 

    Distance: 1.9km | 92.8km | 21km

    The Monster Standard gives you an iconic river swim, fast and scenic bike leg and fast city run course with brilliant volunteers, support and a fun-filled atmosphere. Not as serious as some of the other but a great and fun day out racing. 

    September

     BELFAST TRIATHLON

    Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland 

    Distance: 1.5km | 38.6km | 10km

    The Belfast Titanic Triathlon is by far one of the best in Northern Ireland! You’re surrounded by iconic buildings and features, with the swim in the shadow of the famous Shipyard Cranes and transition by the beautiful Customs House. The bike and run are pancake flat and there’s definitely a big chance of a PB.

    October

    CRAGGY ISLAND TRI

    Location: Argyll & Bute, Scotland

    Distance: 550m | 14km | 8km

    “Craggy Island stands out as a unique event. The swim starts on the mainland at Oban across to the gorgeous isle of Kerrera, with an off-road bike and run following. This format set amidst a spectacular location is hard to beat.

     

    If you are looking for the perfect triathlon gear to take on any of these or other events then take a look at some of our suits here.. MENS / WOMENS